Librarians, we have a problem. The reaction to the CNBC article, particularly the martyr-themed #librarianstress commentary, is a public relations disaster. We suck at this folks. And we really cannot afford to do this to ourselves.
Yes, frustrating and difficult situations happen in libraries, but just because your job includes stress does not make it stressful. It makes it normal.
Librarianship is not the only profession to face challenges, changes, and misconceptions. (The article’s author, who also said being a jeweler isn’t stressful, has obviously never met a bride.) I came to librarianship from newspaper journalism, another radically changing profession, and while the sense of worry is still present, the outer focus is on the new things different newspapers are trying to evolve. The constant threat of digital is always present, but it’s reality — nothing more, nothing less. This constant state of crisis in librarianship has to end, and the negative energy needs to be weeded from our emotions. It’s not fair to our colleagues, it’s not fair to our communities, and it’s certainly not fair to ourselves.
I easily have the least stressful job in my family. My younger brother recently passed his air traffic control performance verification, and when I was talking to him earlier today, he made the most perfect comment about the overwhelming stress of this test (the final training exam, essentially): “That’s your life. If you don’t like it, find something different.”
The stresses of librarianship are what they are. Our patrons, our funding struggles, and our reality will not go away just because we don’t like them or because someone sees them differently. Freaking out gets us nowhere. It’s up to us whether we can stop taking the little things seriously and focus on staying positive instead.
(All that said, keep the sarcasm coming. It’s good for us. And if someone can tell me where I’m supposed to shelve Alexander McCall Smith, please help!)